Dorothy was right - there really IS no place like home. My relief came on duty right on time and I dashed into town to pick up some thyroid meds for some of my dogs and to pick up some groceries. From there I went straight to the house, and plugged in my dog truck to warm while I put away groceries and unpacked my suitcases. I was enjoying a cup of coffee and catching up on some Emails when Mike Green showed up, riding his snow machine.
Mike is a musher originally from New Hampshire. He and his wife Kim are wonderful friends, and Mike boards many of my dogs while I'm away at my place of employment. Knowing my four-wheeler is dead and likely beyond resuscitation he fired up the machine to break out some trails for me. He reported that the main trail (virtually a sled dog and snow machine freeway) is in very good shape as far as the Two Rivers Road trailhead, where mushers have veered off the trail system and onto the road. He broke out the section we refer to as the "swamp trail" (because it crosses over a swampy muskeg area), and said it is "rough but runnable with a small team."
Mike left on the snowmachine at the same time I left for his place in my truck. I arrived only a few minutes before he returned, and he enjoyed watching as I turned loose dogs to run to the truck.
That's a trick I'm particularly proud of, but have to be careful with as well. Most of my dogs are trained to run to the truck and load themselves (using their ramp) when I turn them loose of a tether. I use the cue "saddle up" to ask them to load into the truck. There is always a risk that a dog, distracted by the freedom, will bolt away so one must be careful which dogs are released. I have a couple that aren't necessarily reliable.
As I expected she would, Amazing Grace took three or four laps around Mike's house, at a full suspended gallop, while I walked over to the truck and pointed to her box. She clambered aboard and I shut the door. Most of the dogs were more direct about loading up. Cassie (Cassiopeia) also did a lap or two around the property in sheer exuberance, and Seamus headed straight for the house looking for something to eat or a kitty to harass. He was the only one we had to actually go fetch. Orion was very straight forward, perhaps because he knows there are dog treats waiting for him in his box.
Just is my favorite with the "loose drop" trip, because he is so direct about things. He always goes straight to the truck, and when unloading goes straight to his house, without a lot of horsing around. He seems very serious about it, which is a bit out of character as he's usually one of the more active dogs in the yard.
When I got home I realized I needed to put fresh bedding straw in the houses, but the dogs were very good about waiting while I did that chore. I got those 8 dogs unloaded, then headed back to Jan DiNapoli's place to pick up the rest of the gang. I was able to loose drop all of them to load with no problems at all. Even Beau only went run-amok for a wee spell before clambering up into the truck.
With the dogs all home and getting settled my next errand was the post office, to pick up two weeks worth of mail. More than half of it was junk mail that I pitched right then and there. I figure if the post office is going to encourage companies to produce and send that crap they might as well enjoy the privilege of hauling it off to the dumpster. There were no real surprised in the post, which is probably a good thing. I've had enough surprises for a while.
Once back at the house it was time to feed the gang, and of course everyone had healthy appetites. With the dogs fed I turned my attention to my own growling stomach, and decided to let Jon cook supper for me, over at Two Rivers Lodge. The special in the lounge is "Twofer Tuesdays", appetizers two for the price of one, so I made my supper of steak bits and beer battered halibut. Not exactly a balanced meal, but coupled with a couple of pints of good ale it certainly did the job.
I was back at the house at a reasonable hour, checked on the dogs and then headed to bed myself. It was a typical "return home from work", requiring nearly constant motion until well into the evening. The reward is great, though, because it means I can be where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing.